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Fly like an Eagle: A Scout’s achievement

Leaders of Pagosa Springs Boy Scout Troop 807 proudly awarded the Eagle Scout Award to Timothy Levonius on Sunday, Dec. 20.

This is an award that all Boy Scouts initially aspire to earn, but few actually achieve the goal. Timothy is to be congratulated for the perseverance and hard work that spanned a period of eight years as a Boy Scout, and for his time spent before that as a Cub Scout.

Timothy began his scouting experience in Dallas, Texas, where he joined the Cub Scout pack that was organized at his elementary school. When he moved to Pagosa Springs, he and his family were delighted to find a scouting program here. He became a member of Pagosa Springs Boy Scout troop 807 when he was 11 years old, and moved through all the ranks of scouting here.

His Eagle project here was almost complete when he and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, last summer. Fortunately, he was able to finish the project and attend the required meetings, interviews about the project and complete the paperwork by making several trips to Pagosa Springs during the summer and fall. All this was done while he was completing his senior year of high school in San Antonio. He also played varsity football at his new high school this fall.

“Moving in the middle of such a project certainly made it more difficult, but I am glad I stuck it out” Timothy said. Perseverance is one trait that scouting teaches, and Timothy was certainly put to the test.

Sometimes it is hard to select an Eagle project that meets all the criteria set forth by the Boy Scouts. Tim thought for a long time about an appropriate Eagle project that would be of lasting benefit to the community

It was while doing volunteer work at Ruby Sisson Library that he came up with the idea for his project. One day he overheard a conversation about placement of the library’s flagpole after the building remodel, and decided to find out where he might be able to build such a patriotic project elsewhere in town.

He first needed to put his idea in writing for the Boy Scout organization, since there are strict guidelines that must be followed for an Eagle project. Once approval was granted by national scouting committee, he approached authorities at the Town of Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Department.

Timothy wrote a formal proposal, made a presentation to town officials, and received their endorsement. The plan was to build a flagpole for the American flag at the newest town facility, Yamaguchi Park, on South 5th Street. Next, he got busy raising money for the materials for his flagpole project. He received donations from individuals, and financial support from organizations such as the Knights of Columbus and the Kiwanis Club. Several local businesses also supported his endeavor.

“I really appreciated all the help from Larry Page,” said Timothy. “He believed in my project, and really helped me make some plans, get organized and find the right contacts. He was there all the way for me.”

Timothy and representatives from the parks and recreation department decided on the exact site for the flagpole. Timothy then drew a detailed site plan and calculated materials, equipment and labor that were necessary. He needed to keep accurate records of all this as a part of the project. He admitted that calculating the exact amount of concrete was one of the trickiest parts of the entire project.

As with many Eagle projects, this did not need to be a “one scout effort.” On the day work began, Timothy had strong support from his fellow troop members and from family members and parents of other scouts. The pole for the American flag now stands proudly at the park. Timothy hopes this is just the beginning of a more complex project at the park. He envisions an additional pole for the Colorado state flag, possible benches for public use, and landscaping of the area. He puts this forth as a challenge to the scouts who are moving up in the ranks of Troop 807.

The mission of the Boy Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law. The Scout oath is, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Scout Law states, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

These are very high standards to live by. In 2008, around 5 percent of all Boy Scouts exhibited these standards and earned the Eagle award. From 1912 to 2009, 2 million Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle rank.

A scout must successfully proceed through five previous ranks before pursuing the rank of Eagle. On the road to achieving the Eagle rank there are many merit badges to choose from, so scouts can tailor a scouting program to their particular interests. A scouting experience in Pagosa Springs may be very different from a scouting experience in a major city. Scouts from urban areas must often travel great distances to experience what Scouts here are able to do on a daily basis. On the other hand, boys from this area often need to make a major effort to earn merit badges that cannot be offered here because of location or availability of a qualified merit badge counselor.

Among the most popular merit badges are those in First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Camping, Family Life, Personal Management, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, Hiking, Cycling, or Swimming. Timothy enjoyed earning merit badges in communications, salesmanship, and entrepreneurship. A successful Eagle scout must serve six months in a troop leadership position; plan, develop and give leadership to a service project for any religious organization or any school or community; take part in a scoutmaster conference; and successfully complete an Eagle Scout Board of Review.

Timothy will be the first to tell you that the road to becoming an Eagle is not always easy. Some of the merit badges he earned were easier than others, and some, naturally, were more interesting to him than others. He sometimes challenged himself to learn about the unknown by tackling merit badges that were beyond his comfort level. The (unfortunate) high turnover in scouting leadership in this area was a challenge as well. Each new leader has his unique background in scouting, ideas, and methods of leadership that must be understood by the boys. Additionally, because it is difficult in some cases to complete a merit badge because of limited scouting staff and counselors, Timothy (and other local scouts) attended merit badge clinics in Durango where several badges could be completed in a short period of time. He also earned some of his merit badges at Boy Scout Camp.

Adult leadership and adult role models are a vital part of the Boy Scout program. Timothy is especially appreciative of the effort made on his behalf by Buck Pierce.

He said, “Mr. Pierce had the longest involvement in helping me get through the ranks. He did this by giving me rides, encouraging me when I needed it and being there to congratulate me on my successes.”

Timothy also expressed his appreciation for the support of all nine scoutmasters who were a part of his scouting experience, including Mr. Shafer, Mr. Wholf and Mr. Wiley, who were dedicated to the boys during their time as scoutmasters. He said that these men believed in the boys and encouraged them when they often felt like giving up.

During Timothy’s time as a Boy Scout he volunteered throughout the community. He spent many hours helping out at Ruby Sisson Library, helped with Operation Helping Hand for several Christmas seasons and helped in many ways with Vacation Bible School programs.

“As a result of volunteer work and Boy Scouts, I really enjoy meeting someone new,” he said. “Being around new people and getting to know different people is really enjoyable. Most of the scouting people I worked with are outgoing, brilliant people you like being around — people you want to be around.”

Timothy plans to take his experiences and skills with him next year into college where he intends to pursue studies in mechanical or electrical engineering.

Congratulations, Timothy, and best wishes for your future endeavors. Hopefully you will someday return to scouting as an adult volunteer so you can share your experiences and knowledge with others.